Ricordi di Roma

Large micromosaic parure, necklace, earrings and brooch in gold, Rome circa 1840

Ricordi di Roma - Memories from Rome: This large jewellery set takes us to the Eternal City. The complete set, a so-called parure of necklace, earrings and brooch, comprises a total of sixteen mosaics of the finest glass stones in frames of black glass. Settings of high-carat gold make the small works of art wearable and each of the oval vistas shows a different place of memory, the sum of a great Italian journey to the sites of antiquity in Rome and the surrounding countryside. We see temples and ruins, ancient columns and tombs, and at the center, the Basilica of St. Peter with St. Peter's Square and Bernini's colonnades. Each of the vedute shows the building under the Roman, pastel sky and mostly detached from the tangle of the city. Grass and vegetation give the buildings a supra-temporal setting, as if they were not works of man but also part of nature. Just looking at the familiar places awakens longing and melancholy and the memory of the last stay at the "umbellicus mundi", the navel of the world. Mosaics like these, with representations of the sights of Rome, were created in Rome in specialized workshops specifically for the many tourists from northern Europe. The travellers could choose the motifs according to their own taste from a large selection or rely on a pre-selection with the most popular motifs. Often it remained with a brooch or a pair of earrings. Here, however, the full range was used and the parure opens up a large panorama of the finest mosaics that belong together. The necklace opens with a triumphal arch on the clasp, probably the Arch of Titus in Rome. Clockwise follow the Temple at Paestum, the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli, the Temple of Vesta, the Pantheon, and in the center, St. Peter's Square. Attached to it is shown the Roman Forum, to the left of it the Colosseum then the tomb of Cecilia Metella, the Temple of Minerva Medica and finally the Temple of Hercules in Cori. The brooch shows a view of the Forum Boarum, with the columns of the Temple of Portunus and in the background the bell tower of S. Maria in Cosmedin. The earrings then on the small mosaics above the Arch of Janus and the Pyramid of Cestius, below as counterparts (and wisely chosen for earrings) the two great columns of Trajan and that of Marcus Aurelius. The arrangement begins at the Collier in the places of the Campagna, and then, as the mosaics increase in size, leads into the heart of the city. Here, however, between the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum, St. Peter's Square is then shown: it is contemporary Rome, which at the same time (from the Pope's point of view) saw itself as both the goal and the heritage of antiquity. This choice is often encountered in the history of mosaic decoration; cf. e.g. the works in Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001, pp. 75 and 124ff. The parure was created in the first half of the 19th century. This is suggested not only by the workmanship and quality of the mosaics, but also by a small detail of the depiction of St. Peter's Square: it is still depicted without the gas lighting installed in 1854, of which one was particularly proud as a technical achievement and which none of the later mosaics of the site does without. The set has recently undergone extensive restoration, the mosaics have been stabilised with solid gold backs, the settings have been strengthened, the mosaics have been cleaned and the brooches and earwires of the earrings have been renewed. So the set can now be worn again without any worries. Or even just to admire, because the details and beauties are so rich that something new is revealed with every glance.

The origin of the art of micromosaic lies in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks existed since the 16th century. Initially, to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against candle soot, moisture and dirt, which the many pilgrims brought into the church. Later, after this task was completed, further copies of paintings were made as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewellery and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. Countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city as part of the Grand Tour, creating a huge demand for souvenirs. Not least to serve this market, a whole new art form emerged: micromosaics are small and portable, and were therefore particularly suited to being taken back home to the north. Since they also usually show the beauties of Rome or motifs from antiquity, their success as travel souvenirs is hardly surprising. The "invention" of the micromosaic is associated above all with Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti, who perfected this technique around 1775. They founded a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such a richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today, corresponding mosaics are produced in Rome, albeit in significantly lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaics the relevant literature: Maria Grazia Branchetti: Mosaici minuti romani, Rome 2004, with many works by Giacomo Raffaelli, as well as Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001.

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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

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